Lily by Rose Tremain

Lily cover

Lily by Rose Tremain is subtitled A Tale of Revenge. It begins in 1850 when on a freezing cold night a young policeman Sam Trench discovers a tiny baby which has been abandoned by her mother in a park near Bethnal Green, London. He takes the baby to the nearby London Foundling Hospital, better known as Coram, a home for orphans. The babies that end up there are farmed out to people in the country until they are six years old. The couples are given ten shillings a month to bring up the children so it’s just a way of making ends meet for them. But Lily’s foster family, farmers in rural Suffolk, Nellie and Perkin Buck grow to love her. At the end of the six years the unsuspecting Lily is dragged away from Nellie, the woman she loved like a mother and who loved her too, as did Perkin and their sons, they want to keep her but aren’t allowed to.

Then begins a nightmarish existence for Lily at the hands of the cruel sisters (presumably nuns) of the Coram. No toys or fun for the children who have to work, picking okum, scrubbing, washing clothes, sewing. Lily has been taught sewing skills by Nellie, but her skills don’t help her avoid the abuse and terror of the place.

It’s a twisted form of Christianity that’s taught there, but when Lily gets work as a wigmaker when she’s old enough to leave the hospital, the fate of the girls still left behind at the orphanage haunts her.

This is a really good read, despite the fact that it is a wee bit disjointed at the beginning, and it doesn’t have chapters, something that I dislike as I like to read to the end of a chapter before putting a book down and no chapters makes it difficult to break off. Having said that, I’m hoping that there will be a sequel to this book.

This is only the second book by Tremain that I’ve read, I read Merival previously and really liked that one too.

I was sent a digital copy of this book by the publisher via NetGalley. Thank you. The book is due to be published on the 11th of November 2021.

My garden in August

Katrina's garden

Above is a photo of part of the back border of my garden. When we moved here just 18 months ago there was nothing here except grass, very rough grass at that, but already I’m having to move some plants as they’ve outgrown their space. The lilies in pots are the ones which I grow to put into any bare spots in the border but I didn’t have any gaps to fill.

lily

Above is a close up of a lily with a salvia creeping in. I took these photos in July when everything was looking its best but it’s still quite colourful now, considering we’re reaching the back end of September.

irises

The irises are completely over now so this is a nice reminder of how lovely they were, I must get some more iris bulbs.

clematis

The clematis is beginning to twine around the trellis of the garden seat, it has flowered quite well but the honeysuckle which I planted at the back of the seat hasn’t flowered at all yet – maybe it will next year.

rose

This rose opens up very pale pink tinged with deeper pink as you can see, but as it ages the colour deepens. I really must dig through my plant labels to see what it’s called.

obelisk + sparrows

My garden is still very much a work in progress, as every garden is, the obelisk above is one of the more recent additions. I love the way the birds claim everything for themselves as a handy perching place. When we first moved here there were hardly any birds visiting but as soon as I started planting things they came in to have a look and see what was going on. I have sweet peas planted at the base of the obelisk and a Tayberry bush winding around it.

pergola + obelisk

If you look closely at the top of the fence you can see the birds sitting there, looking like they’re waiting in a queue, taking their turn
sparrows

to enjoy a good dust bath.

orange lily

I’m looking forward to the time when the fence is more or less covered by climbing plants and shrubs, the plan is for the garden to sort of blend in with the trees on the other side of the fence, which is a wild area leading to a woodland.